6 Replies Latest reply on Jul 14, 2012 6:16 AM by Bjorn Hulman

    wire lengths

    Dick Kaman

      We manufacture commercial appliances that require electrical hook-up and have 15 to 20 electrical components inside them.  Our production staff wires up the electrical components.  There are roughly 40 to 70 individual wires required in order to hook up the components in a typical product.  We pre-make wiring harnesses but, in order to pre-make them; we must specify wires according to length.  Determining wire length with some degree of accuracy prior to a prototype is hit-and-miss.  Without the product assembled in front of you, it’s difficult the guess the lengths. 

       

      With SolidWorks, we can now build the product on the computer and place all the components where they belong in the assembly. 

      Our current method of establishing wire lengths is to invoke the measurement tool in Evaluate, start at the component tab of one connection and measure the distance to the other connection.  We then take the x, y, and z components, and manually add them up for total length.  This method, however, does not work well if the wire needs to be routed around an object or through a conduit, or bundled with other wires & routing.  We can select intermediate points in the assembly to try to work around some objects but this is often awkward since we need an edge or something to point to.  And now we are starting to put a fair amount of time into estimating wire lengths, to the point of where I believe “there must be a better way”!  We are using Solidworks 2012 Standard version, so we do not have the wiring and piping features. 

       

      Is there any method in SWX Standard to make this a more convenient function?  If not, what level of SWX do I need to make this operation easier.  I need to consider the “value model” here, since we only design new products requiring this operation 2 or 3 times a year, compare that to the cost of our engineering time and cost of upgrading to SWX premium.

       

      Thank you,

       

      Dick

        • Re: wire lengths
          Glenn Schroeder

          Dick,

           

          Assuming that the wires are created with a sweep, you can make the sketch visible and then activate the Measure tool.  Select all the line segments and it will give a total length.

           

          wire length.png

          • Re: wire lengths
            Mark Kaiser

            Sounds like you're not actually modeling the wire yet?  Model the wire, using sweeps as Glenn suggested, and look into using 3D sketches with splines as the path for the sweep. 

            • Re: wire lengths
              Glenn Schroeder

              I went back and re-read your post.  I had thought that you were modeling the wire.  Even if you don't want to model the wire, you could still use a 3d sketch to trace the path of the wire and use the method I described above to measure the length.

              • Re: wire lengths
                Alin Vargatu

                Wow. Looks like the time savings you will get by using the Routing Add-in would pay for the upgrade to Premium in no time at all.

                • Re: wire lengths
                  Erik Bilello

                  Dick,

                   

                  I've done a fair bit of "wiring" in SW over the years without the benefit of the routing add-in.  I would agree with Mark and Glenn and suggest modeling the wires in with sweeps.  These days making them virtual parts really simplifies things.  3D sketches are not that hard to deal with and depending on the path a simple 2D sketch may suffice. 3D sketches are easier to keep nailed down if you only use splines where you need them.  RMB on the path sketch and click "Select Chain" to get the complete path and use the Measure tool to get the overall length.

                   

                  Only you can decide if the time you might save upgrading (maybe just one seat) to Premium would be worth it to you, but you might ask your VAR what just buying the Routing add-in would cost. I was once told I could get it separately if I didn't really need the rest of the Premium goodies.

                  • Re: wire lengths
                    Bjorn Hulman

                    I agree with Alin, if you're doing a lot of wiring, and you want it done efficeintly and accurately, look into upgrading and utilising the routing tools.